Author: Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: ARC Tour
Three days after learning of her brother Finn's death, Honor receives his last letter from Iraq. Devastated, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously sets off to California to fulfill it. At the last minute she's joined by Rusty, Finn's former best friend.
Rusty is the last person Honor wants to be with - he's cocky and obnoxious, just like Honor remembers, and she hasn't forgiven him for turning his back on Finn when Finn enlisted. But their road trip ends up revealing more than the desert landscape. While they cover the dusty miles in Finn's beloved 1967 Chevy Impala, long-held resentments begin to fade, and Honor and Rusty struggle to come to terms with the loss they share.
As the memories of Finn merge to create a new portrait, Honor's eyes are opened to a side of her brother she never knew - a side that shows her the true meaning of love and sacrifice.
The book opens with a funeral, and so Honor is introduced in her rawest, saddest moment. It sucks the reader into her emotional state right away and makes her instantly sympathetic. She's also a pretty cool chick and someone with whom most people could probably be friends. Rusty is kinda the opposite. He's really emotional over Finn's death as well. But he's kind of an asshole a lot of the time. He drinks a lot and is a mean drunk. He seems like he might be something of a player. Sometimes he comes across as a flake, but I don't think that he really is. All of these things frustrate Honor. But what I like is that she doesn't ignore all of this stuff and put up with him just because he's cute. She has grown up with this boy and he pisses her off and he has issues, but he was a good friend to her brother for a long time. And so she cares for him in spite of these things, because she's not an idiot. Yay for non-idiotic heroines!
The relationship between Honor and Rusty is strained because of the way that Rusty and Finn's friendship went south before Finn enlisted in the military, and because sometimes the way that Rusty acts kinda sucks. But they share the grief and the road. There are ups and downs in their tolerance of one another and it makes for interesting relationship development.
The road trip thing is done pretty frequently as a physical representation of a character's journey, and with good reason. I can't think of too many people who don't love a good road trip story. I like that this one hits you right away with the sad stuff and then it's all healing from there. The story feels completely honest, and the way that it ends is neither resignation nor happily ever after. It's just...real. A little bit open-ended. To me, it felt like it was a bit of resolution combined with a bit of to-be-continued. And I liked it for giving me that piece of honesty and realism with a hopeful-but-who-really-knows vibe. I definitely recommend it. And if you've read Jessi Kirby's Moonglass and liked it, I think that In Honor is even better. Read it!